Broome, Western Australia
|Elevation||19 m (62 ft)|
|Time zone||AWST (UTC+08:00)|
|Location||1,681 km (1,045 mi) NNE of Perth|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Broome|
Broome, also known as Rubibi by the Yawuru people, is a coastal, pearling and tourist town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, 1,681 km (1,045 mi) north of Perth. The urban population was 14,445 in June 2018 growing to over 45,000 per month during the peak tourist season (June to August).
Named in honour of the Java-to-Australia undersea telegraph cable which reaches shore there, Cable Beach is situated 7 km (4.3 mi) from town along a bitumen road. The beach itself is 22.5 km (14.0 mi) long with white sand, washed by tides that can reach over 9 m (30 ft). The beach is almost perfectly flat. Located directly east of Cable Beach over the dunes is Minyirr Park, a coastal reserve administered by a collaboration of the Shire of Broome and the Yawuru people.
Being situated on a north/south peninsula, Broome has water on both sides of the town. On the eastern shore are the waters of Roebuck Bay extending from the main jetty at Port Drive to Sandy Point, west of Thangoo station. Town Beach is part of the shoreline and is popular with visitors on the eastern end of the town. It is also the site of the famous 'Staircase to the Moon', where a receding tide and a rising moon combine to create a stunning natural phenomenon. On "Staircase to the Moon" nights, a food and craft market is operated on Town Beach.
Roebuck Bay is of international importance for the millions of migrating waders or shorebirds that use it seasonally on migration through the East Asian – Australasian Flyway from their breeding grounds in northern Asia. They feed on the extensive intertidal mudflats and roost at high tide on the red sand beaches of the bay. They can be seen in the largest numbers in summer, but many of the younger birds remain throughout the first and second years of their lives. The Broome Bird Observatory, sited in pindan woodland close to the northern shore of Roebuck Bay, was established by Birds Australia in 1988, and formally opened in 1990. The purpose of the observatory is to study the birds, learn how to protect them and educate the public about them.
A mixed black flying fox and little red flying fox colony of around 50,000 megabats lives all year in mangroves next to Broome township's small Streeter's Jetty. They chatter and socialise loudly before flying out at dusk each evening. The bats are key pollinators and seed dispersers for native trees and plants.
It is often mistakenly thought that the first European to visit Broome was William Dampier in 1688, but he only visited the north of what was later named the Dampier Peninsula. In 1699 he explored the coast from Shark Bay to La Grange Bay, from where he headed north leaving the Australian coast. Many of the coastal features of the area were later named for him. In 1879, Charles Harper suggested that the pearling industry could be served by a port closer to the pearling grounds and that Roebuck Bay would be suitable. In 1883, John Forrest chose the site for the town, and it was named after Sir Frederick Broome, the Governor of Western Australia from 1883 to 1889.
The 1880s saw the commencement of Broome's pearling industry, which initially involved slavery and indentured labour, pearl diving being an occupation reserved for specific ethnic groups, most prominently from Japan and followed by other Asian countries. This led to numerous racially motivated conflicts, most notably the 1920 race riots between Japanese and Malay residents, resulting in 8 deaths and at least 60 injuries. The Broome community came to "reflect the hierarchy of the pearling industry, which was based on occupation and ethnicity". White collar occupations and positions of power were exclusively held by Europeans. As a consequence, racial segregation was common in Broome until the 1970s.
1942 air attacks
Broome was attacked at least four times during World War II as part of the Japanese air raids on Australia. The worst attack in terms of loss of life was an air raid on 3 March 1942 in which at least 86 people (mostly civilian refugees from the Dutch East Indies) were killed, making it the second deadliest Japanese attack on Australia after the bombing of Darwin. Twenty-two aircraft were destroyed, most of them flying boats, the remains of which can still be seen in the harbour at low tide.
1950s to 2000s
The West Australian mining boom of the 1960s, as well as the growth of the tourism industry, also helped Broome develop and diversify.
Dinosaur footprints dated as Early Cretaceous in age (approximately 130 million years ago) were discovered 30 m (98 ft) out to sea at Gantheaume Point in the 1960s. The tracks can be seen only during very low tide. In 1996 some of the prints were cut from the ground and stolen, but have since been recovered.
Broome entered into a sister city agreement with Taiji, Japan in 1981 as historic ties between the two towns date back to the early 1900s, when Japan became instrumental in laying the groundwork of Broome's pearling industry. The annual dolphin hunt in Taiji was the subject of the 2009 documentary The Cove, and sparked a unanimous decision by Broome's council, headed by Graeme Campbell, to end the relationship with Taiji if the dolphin hunt were to continue. The decision was reversed in October 2009.
2012 Save the Kimberley campaign
The Broome community led a campaign to protest against a proposal to industrialise the James Price Point outside Broome. The campaign has received ardent support from public figures such as John Butler, Missy Higgins, Clare Bowditch and former leader of the Australian Greens, Dr Bob Brown. A concert for the campaign was held on 5 October 2012 at Federation Square in Melbourne and was attended by approximately 6,000 people. A long term protest camp operated at James Price Point. One of the campaign points was to protect the significant 'dinosaur highway' of dinosaur tracks that are found in the intertidal zone outside Broome. The campaign has since remained a divisive topic amongst locals, with many blaming the 'no' decision for the slow economic growth that characterises the region.
Fossilised Megalosauropus broomensis dinosaur footprints dated as early Cretaceous in age are 30 m (98 ft) out to sea at Gantheaume Point. The fossil trackway can be viewed during very low tide. Plant fossils are also preserved extensively in the Broome Sandstone at Gantheaume Point and in coastal exposures further north.
The fossil trackways at Broome include possibly the largest known dinosaur footprints, sauropod tracks upwards of 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in) long. It is suspected that the sauropod that made these tracks might have been 7–8 m (23–26 ft) tall at the hip.
The town has a deep history based around the exploits of the men and women who developed the pearling industry, starting with the harvesting of oysters for mother of pearl in the 1880s to the large present-day cultured pearl farming enterprises.
At first, Indigenous people, especially women and girls, were forced to dive for pearls by European pearlers, and many died working in the industry. Report of abuses in the early days of pearling led to legislation in 1871 and 1875 regulating native labour and prohibiting the use of women as divers. Asians, especially Japanese, and Pacific Islanders were subsequently recruited as indentured labour. Pearling was a dangerous and sometimes deadly occupation and the town's Japanese cemetery is the resting place of 919 Japanese divers who lost their lives working in the industry.
Each year Broome celebrates the fusion of different cultures brought about by the pearling industry in an annual cultural festival called Shinju Matsuri (Japanese for "festival of the pearl").
In 2010 the Shire of Broome and Kimberley commissioned a Memorial to the Indigenous Female Pearl Divers. In April 2019, the skeletons of 14 Yawuru and Karajarri people which had been sold by a wealthy Broome pearler to a museum in Dresden in 1894 were brought home. The remains, which had been stored in the Grassi Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig, showed signs of head wounds and malnutrition, a reflection of the poor conditions endured by Aboriginal people forced to work on the pearling boats. As of May 2019[update], the remains are being stored in Perth until facilities have been built to accommodate them in Broome.
According to the 2016 census, there were 13,984 people in Broome.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 21.4% of the population.
- 70.6% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 3.7%, New Zealand 2.4% and Philippines 1.6%.
- 78.0% of people only spoke English at home.
- The most common responses for religion were No Religion 38.5% and Catholic 24.9%.
According to the Yawuru calendar, there are six seasons:http://www.bom.gov.au/iwk/calendars/yawuru.shtml
Under the Köppen climate classification, Broome has a hot semi-arid climate (BSh); like most parts of the Australian tropics, it has two seasons: a dry season and a wet season. The dry season is from April to November with nearly every day clear and maximum temperatures around 30 °C (86 °F). The wet season extends from December to March, with maximum temperatures of around 35 °C (95 °F), rather erratic tropical downpours and high humidity. Broome's annual rainfall average is 615.1 mm (24.22 in), 75% of which falls from January to March. Broome observes an average of 48.4 days a year that record measurable precipitation.
Broome is susceptible to tropical cyclones and these, along with the equally unpredictable nature of summer thunderstorms, play a large part in the erratic nature of the rainfall. For instance, in January 1922, Broome Post Office recorded just 2.8 mm (0.11 in) of rainfall while in the same month of 2018, the airport received 945.4 mm (37.22 in). Dewpoint averages at 24 °C or 75.2 °F in the wet season but is as low as 8.4 °C or 47.1 °F in the dry season.
Frost is unknown; however, temperatures during the cooler months have dropped to as low as 3.3 °C (37.9 °F).
The average temperature of the sea ranges from 24.7 °C (76.5 °F) in July and August to 30.2 °C (86.4 °F) in March.
|Climate data for Broome Airport|
|Record high °C (°F)||44.1
|Average high °C (°F)||33.3
|Daily mean °C (°F)||29.8
|Average low °C (°F)||26.3
|Record low °C (°F)||19.0
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||191.5
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||11.7||11.5||7.9||2.6||2.4||1.8||1.3||1.0||0.9||0.6||1.3||5.5||48.5|
|Average afternoon relative humidity (%)||65||67||60||45||38||36||33||35||45||54||57||61||50|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||257.3||212.8||263.5||294.0||291.4||282.0||306.9||325.5||312.0||337.9||336.0||291.4||3,510.7|
Broome contains five schools: four government, Broome Primary School, Cable Beach Primary School, Roebuck Primary School, and Broome Senior High School; and St Mary's College, a Catholic K–12 school.
Sport and recreation
Broome hosts a lawn bowling club and a golf club. The town also has four Australian rules football clubs; Broome Bulls Football Club (established 1949) the Broome Saints, Towns and Cable Beach all competing in the West Kimberley Football Association with games played at Haynes Oval.
Four Association Football clubs compete in the local Broome Soccer Association's BLiga competition each dry season. FC Meatworks, Pearlers, Racing G and Broome Town field sides across men's and women's divisions.
Since 1992 Broome has been home to a local community newspaper, the Broome Advertiser, published each Thursday, part of the Seven West Media group. Previously Broome had a Saturday weekly newspaper, published from 1912 to 1930, The Nor-West Echo, the successor to the Broome Chronicle, established in 1908.
Localised television stations available include GWN7, WIN, Nine, ABC, SBS and Goolarri media. GWN7 broadcasts a half-hour news program for regional WA, GWN7 News, at 5:30pm weeknights; GWN7 has a district newsroom covering Broome and surrounding areas based in the town.
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- Broome sweeps in a little luxury
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